Forever Twelve (The Evers #1)

 
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Forever Twelve (The Evers #1)
Age Range
8+
Release Date
October 03, 2023
ISBN
978-0593429624
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What if you were twelve for all of eternity? From the award-winning author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl comes a magical mystery about a group of kids who have been alive for hundreds of years.

At the elite West Archer Academy, all the students are gifted, but four are exceptional. Though the Evers look twelve, they're actually centuries old, possessing knowledge and talents that make them extraordinary. And boarding school is the perfect cover for their brilliance -- and their secret. 

It's supposed to be a typical year in the anything-but-typical lives of these "kids" . . . until Ivy Stewart shows up. She resembles an Ever who went missing more than seventy years ago. And Ivy could be the key to unlocking their curse. 

But ambitious Ivy is at West Archer to achieve her own extraordinary goals, and nothing will distract her. Or so she thinks! With the desperate Evers determined to find answers, and her former classmate-and laid-back cool guy-Ronan determined to protect her, Ivy soon finds herself swept up in a mystery only she can solve. 

Will her life be changed forever . . . and ever?

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Stuck in middle school... forever!
Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Ivy has one goal: to get through high schools as quickly as possible so she can go to a good college and become a supreme court justice like Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Ginsberg was motivational to Ivy's mother, who has recently passed away. Feeling that her own school won't help her reach this goal, Ivy takes the entrance exam for West Archer Academy, an exclusive boarding school her great grandmother Gigi attended. The exam is a bit odd; the answers are circled, but Ivy ignores them and puts in her own answers. Not only that, but she's approached by a girl named Abigale who thinks that Ivy looks familiar. Ivy gets in, and is excited even though it means being away from home. Her roommate is none other than Abigail, who shares astonishing news with her. We also meet new student Ronan, from Ivy's hometown, who has a secret. Like his mother, who works as a pyschic adviser, Ronan can see people's futures just by touching them. He was hoping to avoid this fate, but a few days after his 13th birthday, his skills made themselves known. Abigail quickly confides in Ivy the fact that she and several other students, including Tim, Dom, and Este, are hundreds of years old. They regenerate every night, so never age, and are never injured for long, although they can be killed. Ivy looks like Abigail's best friend, Grace, who decided 79 years ago to stop being immortal, and disappeared. Abigail hopes that Ivy can help her locate her friend. Being an "Ever" has a lot of problems. but West Archer Academy, and especially the librarian, Ms. Strange (who dresses "the way someone dressing like a librarian for Halloween would dress", a similar comment which has been made by my own students about my clothing!), who has kept their secret and helps them out by making sure they are readmitted every few years. Ivy's research is successful in locating Grace, but there are a lot of problems that go along with this identification. Este, who is responsible for the eternal tweendom of several of the Evers, doesn't want this information known, especially since Grace managed to short circuit her immortality and has aged considerably. When Ronan accidentally touches Ivy, he is alarmed to see great harm come to her, and tries to circumvent it. He can't, and circumstances occur that give more pressing reasons for both Abigail and Ivy to learn more about the Evers. Is it still safe for them to remain at West Archer Academy for book two in this projected duology?

Good Points
This had some great twists and turns within the well developed framework of the Evers mythos that were quite intriguing. Middle school students would completely believe that one of their classmates was immortal, or had psychic powers. While I wondered about the wisdom of having both the Evers and Ronan's psychic abilities in one book, the story eventually made it clear that they were intertwined. There's a good balance of friend drama, history, boarding school details, and deeper feelings of Something Evil that worked really well. There's definitely room for another story, but it's a relief to know that it's just one more book and not eight! The thing that I liked best was that the Evers had a solid feel for the pluses and minuses of immortality, but didn't all agree on one position. This sets it apart from books like Twilight or other vampire tales where the nuances of living for hundreds of years isn't really addressed. One detail that was somehow especially bittersweet was the fact that Abigail has two broken fingernails that never grow back, since the tweens always return overnight to exactly the way they were when they died. Luckily, none of them had a particularly noteworthy zit!

I've been at my school for 25 years, and if the same students reappeared every ten years, there are several of us who would notice! It seemed like the Evers would have managed to retain some sort of adult manager over the years who could help, sort of like The Mennyms did in Sylvia Waugh's wonderful tales. Granted, this is more of an adult concern.

Did you love Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting? Did you think long and hard about what your choice would be? Then you need this book! I can't think of another book that handles immortality in quite the same way, althought Saunders' The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop skirts around it. Definitely purchasing.
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Overall rating
 
4.0
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
4.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
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What worked:
The narrative is told from multiple points of view, mostly focusing on Ivy and Ronan. These two students have vastly different motivations for attending West Archer Academy and it’s helpful to know what they’re thinking. Ivy has her life goals planned out as she’ll eventually become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. She doesn’t want friends and other distractions to derail her plans. Ronan has never been a dedicated student but he wants to attend the boarding school where no one knows his mother is a psychic. The third point of view is from Abigail who is one of the Evers. She introduces the conflict that becomes the focus in the second half of the book. Abigail’s best friend disappeared decades ago and it seems Ivy bears a striking resemblance to her. There are a few other chapters with flashbacks to inform readers of events from decades or centuries ago.
The author slowly develops the topic of eternal life to help Ivy and readers accept the idea. There are mentions of character experiences that couldn’t have happened until Abigail reveals the truth to an unbelieving Ivy. Being immune to aging, diseases, and most injuries creates discussion about the topic of living forever. It may seem like an ideal concept for mortals but the Evers share a different viewpoint. They’ve experienced the downside of living eternally among humans who must die and a couple of the characters express some regret for their situations. This difficult mixture of feelings provides readers with food for thought about the possibility of living forever.
The character relationships add intrigue to the plot. The author mentions Abigail’s younger brother James but he’s absent for most of the plot. The two of them had a disagreement in the past but readers are left to wonder about the source of the problem. Abigail is also Ivy’s roommate and she enlists Ivy’s help in finding out what happened to her best friend Grace. Este is the “oldest” Ever and she displays great animosity toward Ivy. Ivy has no idea where the anger comes from but she avoids being near Este whenever she can. Ronan becomes closer to Ivy but he’s unaware of the Evers and the issues they’re dealing with. His importance in the plot is minimal until Ivy discovers a secret he’s hiding and asks him for help.
What didn’t work as well:
Readers will connect with Ivy’s character but the rest of them aren’t developed as much. Ronan is absent from most of the scenes involving the Evers and Abigail is mostly focused on finding Grace. Little is known about the other Evers until some secrets are shared toward the end of the book.
The final verdict:
Ivy’s challenging relationship with the Evers carries the story and readers will appreciate the difficulties that arise. The book addresses common thoughts about eternal life and may inspire readers to consider them too. Overall, this book is enjoyable and thought-provoking and I recommend you give it a shot.
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